Construction Highlights • Northwest Indiana Business Magazine

Construction Highlights

Weathering the economic storm has been a challenge for Northwest Indiana's construction companies, but necessary adjustments were made and things are beginning to stabilize. Some companies in the region have been around long enough to have weathered the Great Depression, so holding on and doing what's needed is ingrained in their fabric. Here's a round-up of some current and recently completed projects.


Graycor, based in Illinois, recently began construction of its new location at AmeriPlex at the Port in Portage to house its Northwest Indiana operations. The 44,000-square-foot facility on 10 acres will be completed in summer 2011. Although the company declines to give a price tag for the new building, news reports peg it at between $5 million and $6 million.

AmeriPlex, owned by Holladay Properties, will be the new home of Graycor Industrial, the industrial construction subsidiary of Graycor, consolidating three offices; and Graycor Blasting, the industrial services subsidiary. Another subsidiary, Graycor Construction, has built buildings in AmeriPlex, including the Bass Pro Shops, but Tom Muchesko, senior vice president, Graycor Industrial, says the company is using The Holladay Construction Group as its builder.

The expanded industrial location will bring its services closer to many of its clients, which include ArcelorMittal, BP, NIPSCO, Praxair and U.S. Steel. “If it's an industrial client in Northwest Indiana, we're either presently working for them or have worked for them,” says Muchesko.

Graycor Industrial just completed construction of a hydrogen plant for Praxair in Whiting, begun in April 2008 on a brownfield site. It will supply hydrogen to BP's refinery in Whiting and other northern Indiana customers. The project included construction of two steam methane reformers, an office/maintenance building, a water purification building, pressure swing adsorption structures and several pre-engineered metal buildings.


Berglund Construction is celebrating two anniversaries – the 100th anniversary of the company, based in Illinois, and the 10th anniversary of the opening of its Chesterton office.

“More than half of our management and administration employees are located in Indiana,” says Bill Gorski, senior vice president of Berglund and head of Indiana operations.

Gorski says about 60 percent of its business is in general construction and the rest in facade restoration and historic preservation. It's currently working on replacing and renovating 90 units of senior housing for the Hammond Housing Authority, to be completed at the end of 2011, and is constructing a new education center for St. Mathias Church in Crown Point.

Berglund recently completed a 40,000-square-foot building for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 697 in Merrillville, for which Gorski says the company hopes to get LEED Gold Certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. New solar panels were used for energy during construction and will supplement other power use in the future. The structure used a high percentage of recycled and regional materials and also features plug-ins for electric vehicles.

Another recently completed project in Berglund's historic renovation niche is construction of a 20,000-square-foot building for Valparaiso University. Heritage Hall, housing the Lawyering Skills Center for the School of Law, is a historical recreation of an 1879 building on campus. The existing building was demolished and the same building was recreated with an addition.

“It has the flavor of the old building and replicates an old courtroom in the interior,” says Gorski.


“The last couple years have been a challenge like we've never seen before,” says Jon Gilmore, president and CEO of Tonn and Blank Construction, “but I see a lot of activity now–a lot more than a year ago.” He's chasing health care, industrial and one big commercial job at the moment. “I'm hopeful that in 2011 we can put the recession behind us and get back to growing the company.”

Tonn and Blank's general construction, design/build and construction management capabilities have grown over its nearly 90-year history, and it has about 300 employees in its Michigan City and smaller Indianapolis offices. Health and hospital projects dominate its current work.

In Northwest Indiana, the company broke ground in October on the St. Anthony Memorial Chesterton Health Center, a 48,000-square-foot emergency department, which should be open in late 2011. The freestanding emergency center is the first of its kind in Northwest Indiana, and will be a certified LEED facility.

In Crown Point at Franciscan Point (Interstate 65 and U.S. 231) construction is just finishing on a 16,000-square-foot classroom building for the satellite campus of the University of St. Francis, Fort Wayne. Also at Franciscan Point, construction is underway on a 27,000-square-foot surgery center addition to St. Anthony Medical Center's outpatient facility built by Tonn and Blank two years ago. The surgery center, with four surgical suites, two endoscopy rooms and space for physician offices, is scheduled to open in late 2011.

“It's a very modern medical campus,” says Gilmore. “It's exciting for Crown Point.”


With a 102-year history, Larson-Danielson knows how to handle economic ups and downs. “When the downturn hit, business went down and we mirrored what was going on in Indiana,” says Tim Larson, president. “People were doing smaller projects and doing renovation–doing only what they had to do.”

That means the company's job list has included more small jobs in banks and schools. “We've seen things stabilize in the first quarter of 2010,” Larson says. “It's still way down, but stabilized.”

The company offers contracting, design/build and construction management, and specializes in health care, commercial/retail and K-12 and university areas. Construction of a Walmart Supercenter is under way in Hammond, and it recently finished building the Charles R. Westcott Gateway Park at U.S. 12 and Michigan Boulevard in Michigan City.

Renovations are under way at LaPorte Hospital, a continuation of work started in 2008 but put on hold by the hospital due to the economy. “We lifted the existing heliport off of the emergency department, constructed the new second-floor addition and then lifted the heliport back in place on top of the new second-floor addition for the OB department (in 2008),” says Larson. “We are currently finishing the interior of the new OB department.”

When that's complete in February 2011, renovation of existing space will start with a completion date of May 2012. The company also is renovating hospital space to house its electrophysiology services, now occupying a mobile unit. That will be complete in summer 2011.


In business for 34 years, Forsey Construction spent its first 26 years focusing on commercial remodeling and carpentry–including plastering and exterior finish systems, framing and drywall, acoustical ceilings, painting and wallpaper. Using its own employees, it performed work for a variety of clients from McDonald's to Martin's Supermarkets to the University of Notre Dame.

For the last eight years, Forsey has offered an extra level of service to its customers with its own in-house design department, seeing the job through from start to finish. The company is able to deliver a quality job with speed and with costs under control, says Thomas Forsey, president.

“Using subcontractors is hard,” he says. “I know because I was one.” Now Forsey can control the drawings, the subs and the rest of the building process. Speed is particularly important, he adds, to make up for lost time that customers have had to spend getting their financing approved for projects.

“We just finished up an Einstein Bagels,” Forsey says. It was a complete redo of a former KFC on State Road 23 and Ironwood in South Bend that took three months to complete. Only the roof and the outside walls remained from the original structure.

“It was fun to do and different from fast foods you see all over the place,” says Forsey. “We've got to have a little fun.”


Robert Henry founded the company in 1974, which specializes in construction and remodeling and installation of electrical underground utilities using its directional drilling and boring capabilities.

Although his son, Stephen, has been president for some time, Stephen officially waved goodbye to dad when he retired Jan. 1, 2011.

“The construction industry right now has better than 15 percent unemployment,” says Stephen Henry. Still, work in Northwest Indiana for NIPSCO and electric companies is keeping 15 to 20 people in their boring crews employed consistently.

Constructing environmentally friendly buildings is a growing area for the company. It just finished work as general contractor on the new Transpo building in South Bend, officially the “Emil ‘Lucky' Reznik Operations, Administration and Maintenance Facility” for public transportation. It's the first building in Ignition Park, a new technology park built on a brownfield site, which once housed a Studebaker plant.

As the country's first LEED Platinum transit facility and the first LEED Platinum project (the highest of three levels) in the state, this new 165,000-square-foot facility has a lot to boast about, including its use of natural light.

“If sunlight is coming in you can't turn on the light,” says Henry. “It automatically saves


2 thoughts on “Construction Highlights”

  1. Graycor, based in Illinois, recently began construction of its new location. With the increase in unemployment, given today’s depressed economy, it is a relief to see any type of construction projects actually happening. Especially, since it seems as if theIndiana Construction Projects are few and far between. I was delighted when I found Dodge Projects because they actually offer detailed leads for work, by state or by niche. They have really made the job search much easier for me and have really set me on the right path. i definitely recommend checking them out.

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